Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

At the Precipice of War

The familiar menace of U.S. war drums have resumed at a fevered pitch, as Iran finds itself once again firmly within the Pentagon’s cross hairs.

According to multiple reports, the U.S. is currently in the midst of a massive military build-up in the Persian Gulf on a scale not seen in the region since prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.  The military surge reportedly includes an influx of air and naval forces, ground troops, and even sea drones.  Lest one forgets, the U.S. already has two aircraft carriers and their accompanying striker groups in the region.

A growing sense of Iran war fever can also be seen mounting in Washington.  For instance, in an effort to foil ongoing nuclear negotiations between Iran and the so-called P5+1 (the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany), a bipartisan group of 44 U.S. Senators recently sent a letter to President Obama urging the administration to “focus on significantly increasing the pressure on the Iranian government through sanctions and making clear that a credible military option exists.”

Such hawkish posturing occurs despite the fact that the U.S. intelligence community (as well as the Israeli intelligence community, for that matter) finds no evidence that Iran has decided to pursue a nuclear weapon–the ostensible reason behind Western sanctions and threats of attack.  Moreover, as an April Pentagon report states, Iran’s military doctrine remains one of self-defense, committed to “slow an invasion” and “force a diplomatic solution to hostilities.”  (Compare this to the U.S. military doctrine rife with notions of global “power projection” and one sees where the credible threat lies.)

The nuclear issue, though, is but a pretext used to veil U.S. imperial designs in the region.  As a senior U.S. Defense Department official recently let slip to the New York Times:  “This is not only about Iranian nuclear ambitions, but about Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions.”  In other words, it is about removing one of the last irritants to U.S. power projection in the resource-rich Middle East.

Of course, Iran already finds itself under siege from a lethal trifecta comprised of U.S.-led cyber attacks, Israeli-led assassinations, and oppressive Western economic sanctions.  The latter of which has left ordinary Iranians to confront a toxic mix of ballooning inflation and rampant unemployment.  In short, as Conn Hallinan writes at CounterPunch, the West is “already at war with Iran.”

The question, then, is just how far this “war by other means” shall ultimately escalate?

Towards a Dangerous Escalation

Although punitive economic sanctions are frequently sold as an alternative to war, history is replete with evidence to the contrary.  In the end, sanctions are often but a prelude to military hostilities.  (One only needs to cross over to Iraq and look at the history of Western sanctions and eventual U.S. invasion.)

In fact, a recent report in the New York Times warned of much the same.  The current round of Western economic penalties imposed on Iran, the paper wrote, “represent one of the boldest uses of oil sanctions as a tool of coercion since the United States cut off oil exports to Japan in 1940. That experiment did not end well: The Japanese decided to strike before they were weakened.”

But much like the attempted torpedoing of Japan’s economy prior to the Second World War, the current attempt to bring Iran to its knees via economic sanctions may very well be designed to draw an attack from Iran–thus creating a justification for a full-fledged U.S. military campaign to impose “regime change.”

And much the same as in the 1940s, a global crisis of capitalism greases our current path to war.  After all, war enables the forcible opening of new markets, along with bounties galore to be wrought via “creative destruction”; both of which are desperately needed for the sustenance of an imperiled economic system predicated on limitless growth and expansion.  Indeed, this enduring allure of war has already reared its ugly head amidst the current crisis.

The colonial smash-and-grab that was the 2011 N.A.T.O. intervention into Libya, as Alexander Cockburn has deemed it, was our first evidence that Western elites have settled on war as a means to resolve the current intractable capitalist crisis.  But the spoils from Libya have proven to be insufficient to revive growth stymied since the onset of the 2008 financial crisis.

A heavily sanctioned Iran, on the other hand, boasts a G.D.P. over five times larger than pre-“liberated” Libya, while also sitting atop the world’s third largest oil reserves and the second largest natural gas reserves.  A defeated and placated Iran able to be enveloped more fully into the U.S.-dominated capitalist system thus holds great potential for global capitalism’s needed regeneration.  Of course, in seizing control over Iran’s energy resources, the U.S. and its allies would also come to possess a monopoly over the Middle East’s energy resources–a strategic key in any future conflict with rivals Russia and China.

And so it is that under the imperative of renewing global capitalism that the U.S. swiftly amasses its military hardware to the Persian Gulf under to cloak of combating nuclear proliferation.  The accompanying talk of military hostilities and of using “all options” against Tehran by elites in Washington thus ought not to be taken as idle threats.

Clearly, we stand at the very precipice of outright war.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Oregon.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his website.

More articles by:

Ben Schreiner is the author of A People’s Dictionary to the ‘Exceptional Nation’.  He may be reached at bnschreiner@gmail.com or via his blog.

October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
Conn Hallinan
Syria’s Chessboard
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Atrocities in Yemen are a Worse Story Than the Disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi
Sheldon Richman
Trump’s Middle East Delusions Persist
Justin T. McPhee
Uberrima Fides? Witness K, East Timor and the Economy of Espionage
Tom Gill
Spain’s Left Turn?
Jeff Cohen
Few Democrats Offer Alternatives to War-Weary Voters
Dean Baker
Corporate Debt Scares
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Affair and and the Anti-Iran Axis
Russell Mokhiber
Sarah Chayes Calls on West Virginians to Write In No More Manchins
Clark T. Scott
Acclimated Behaviorisms
Kary Love
Evolution of Religion
Colin Todhunter
From GM Potatoes to Glyphosate: Regulatory Delinquency and Toxic Agriculture
Binoy Kampmark
Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma
Marvin Kitman
The Kitman Plan for Peace in the Middle East: Two Proposals
Weekend Edition
October 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
My History with Alexander Cockburn and The Financial Future of CounterPunch
Paul Street
For Popular Sovereignty, Beyond Absurdity
Nick Pemberton
The Colonial Pantsuit: What We Didn’t Want to Know About Africa
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Summer of No Return
Jeff Halper
Choices Made: From Zionist Settler Colonialism to Decolonization
Gary Leupp
The Khashoggi Incident: Trump’s Special Relationship With the Saudi Monarchy
Andrew Levine
Democrats: Boost, Knock, Enthuse
Barbara Kantz
The Deportation Crisis: Report From Long Island
Doug Johnson
Nate Silver and 538’s Measurable 3.5% Democratic Bias and the 2018 House Race
Gwen Carr
This Stops Today: Seeking Justice for My Son Eric Garner
Robert Hunziker
Peak Carbon Emissions By 2020, or Else!
Arshad Khan
Is There Hope on a World Warming at 1.5 Degrees Celsius?
David Rosen
Packing the Supreme Court in the 21stCentury
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Threats of Death and Destruction
Joel A. Harrison
The Case for a Non-Profit Single-Payer Healthcare System
Ramzy Baroud
That Single Line of Blood: Nassir al-Mosabeh and Mohammed al-Durrah
Zhivko Illeieff
Addiction and Microtargeting: How “Social” Networks Expose us to Manipulation
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
What is Truth?
Michael Doliner
Were the Constitution and the Bill of Rights a Mistake?
Victor Grossman
Cassandra Calls
Ralph E. Shaffer
Could Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing Ended Differently?
Vanessa Cid
Our Everyday Family Separations
Walaa Al Ghussein
The Risks of Being a Journalist in Gaza
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal and Treachery—The Extremism of Moderates
James Munson
Identity Politics and the Ruling Class
P. Sainath
The Floods of Kerala: the Bank That Went Under…Almost
Ariel Dorfman
How We Roasted Donald Duck, Disney’s Agent of Imperialism
Joe Emersberger
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno’s Assault on Human Rights and Judicial Independence
Ed Meek
White Victimhood: Brett Kavanaugh and the New GOP Brand
Andrew McLean, MD
A Call for “Open Space”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail